Ancestors of Tim Farr and Descendants of Stephen Farr Sr. of Concord, Massachusetts and Lidlington, Bedfordshire, England

Sir William Probus PROWSE Knight & Sheriff of Devonshire [scrapbook] 1 was born about 1253 in Eastervale, Devonshire, England. He died in 1314. William married Alice FERRERS 2 about 1283.

Alice FERRERS [Parents] 1 was born about 1234 in Throwleigh, Kent, England. Alice married Sir William Probus PROWSE Knight & Sheriff of Devonshire 2 about 1283.

They had the following children.

  M i William PROWSE was born about 1300.

Sir Fulk FitzGilbert De FERRERS 1 was born about 1210 in of Throwley, Kent, England, United Kingdom. He died in 1254. Fulk married Mary HELION 2.

Mary HELION 1 was born in 1190. Mary married Sir Fulk FitzGilbert De FERRERS 2.

They had the following children.

  F i Alice FERRERS was born about 1234.

Robert I "The Magnificent" Duke of NORMANDY [Parents] 1, 2, 3 was born about 1003 in Normandie, France. He died 4, 5 on 22 Jul 1035 in Nicaea, Bithynia, Turkey. He was buried in Nicaea, Bithynia, Turkey. Robert married Harlette de FALAISE 6, 7 about 1023.

Harlette de FALAISE [Parents] 1, 2 was born about 1003 in of, Falaise, Normandie. Harlette married Robert I "The Magnificent" Duke of NORMANDY 3, 4, 5 about 1023.

Marriage Notes:

MARRIAGE: Not Married

They had the following children.

  M i Guillaume I de NORMANDIE Le Conquberant was born on 14 Oct 1024. He died on 9 Sep 1087.
  F ii
Adbelahide de NORMANDIE 1 was born about 1027 in of, , Normandie, France. She died before 1090.

Guillaume I de NORMANDIE Le Conquberant [Parents] [scrapbook] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 was born 7 on 14 Oct 1024 in Falaise, Normandy, France. He was christened in 1066 in Norman Conquest, As An Adult;. He died 8, 9 on 9 Sep 1087 in Hermentrube, Near Rouen, France. He was buried in Abbaye de Saint Etienne, Caen, Normandie. Guillaume married 10, 11 Matilda Countess of Flanders Queen of ENGLAND 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 in 1053 in Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Eu, Normandy, France.

Dickens, Charles
Chapter VIII.  England Under William The First, The Norman Conqueror.

Upon the ground where the brave Harold fell, William the Norman afterwards founded an abbey, which, under the name of Battle Abbey, was a rich and splendid place through many a troubled year, though now it is a gray ruin overgrown with ivy.  But the first work he had to do was to conquer the English thoroughly; and that, as you know by this time, was hard work for any man.

He ravaged several counties; he burned and plundered many towns; he laid waste scores upon scores of miles of pleasant country; he destroyed innumerable lives.  At length Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, with other representatives of the clergy and the people, went to his camp, and submitted to him.  Edgar, the insignificant son of Edmund Ironside, was proclaimed king by others, but nothing came of it.  He fled to Scotland afterwards, where his sister, who was young and beautiful, married the Scottish king.  Edgar himself was not important enough for anybody to care much about him.

On Christmas Day, William was crowned in Westminster Abbey, under the title of William the First; but he is best known as William the Conqueror. It was a strange coronation.  One of the bishops who performed the ceremony asked the Normans, in French, if they would have Duke William for their king. They answered, Yes.  Another of the bishops put the same question to the Saxons, in English.  They, too, answered Yes, with a loud shout.  The noise, being heard by a guard of Norman horse-soldiers outside, was mistaken for resistance on the part of the English.  The guard instantly set fire to the neighboring houses, and a tumult ensued, in the midst of which the king, being left alone in the abbey with a few priests (and they all being in a terrible fright together), was hurriedly crowned.  When the crown was placed upon his head, he swore to govern the English as well as the best of their own monarchs.  I daresay you think, as I do, that, if we except the Great Alfred, he might pretty easily have done that.

Numbers of the English nobles had been killed in the last disastrous battle.  Their estates, and the estates of all the nobles who had fought against him there, King William seized upon, and gave to his own Norman knights and nobles.  Many great English families of the present time acquired their English lands in this way, and are very proud of it.

But what is got by force must be maintained by force.  These nobles were obliged to build castles all over England, to defend their new property; and, do what he would, the king could neither soothe nor quell the nation as he wished.  He gradually introduced the Norman language and the Norman customs; yet, for a long time, the great body of the English remained sullen and revengeful.  On his going over to Normandy, to visit his subjects there, the oppressions of his half-brother Odo, whom he left in charge of his English kingdom, drove the people mad.  The men of Kent even invited over, to take possession of Dover, their old enemy, Count Eustace of Boulogne, who had led the fray when the Dover man was slain at his own fireside.  The men of Pereford, aided by the Welsh, and commanded by a chief named Edric the Wild, drove the Normans out of their country.  Some of those who had been dispossessed of their lands banded together in the North of England, some in Scotland, some in the thick woods and marshes; and whensoever they could fall upon the Normans, or upon the English who had submitted to the Normans, they fought, despoiled, and murdered, like the desperate outlaws that they were. Conspiracies were set on foot for a general massacre of the Normans, like the old massacre of the Danes.  In short, the English were in a murderous mood all through the kingdom.

King William, fearing he might lose his conquest, came back and tried to pacify the London people by soft words.  He then set forth to repress the country people by stern deeds.  Among the towns which he besieged, and where he killed and maimed the inhabitants without any distinction, sparing none, young or old, armed or unarmed, were Oxford, Warwick, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, York.  In all these places, and in many others, fire and sword worked their utmost horrors, and made the land dreadful to behold.  The streams and rivers were discolored with blood; the sky was blackened with smoke; the fields were wastes of ashes; the waysides were heaped up with dead. Such are the fatal results of conquest and ambition!  Although William was a harsh and angry man, I do not suppose that he deliberately meant to work this shocking ruin, when he invaded England.  But what he had got by the strong hand, he could only keep by the strong hand; and in so doing he made England a great grave.

Two sons of Harold, by name Edmund and Godwin, came over from Ireland with some ships against the Normans, but were defeated.  This was scarcely done, when the outlaws in the woods so harassed York, that the governor sent to the king for help.  The king despatched a general and a large force to occupy the town of Durham.  The bishop of that place met the general outside the town, and warned him not to enter, as he would be in danger there.  The general cared nothing for the warning, and went in with all his men.  That night, on every hill within sight of Durham, signal-fires were seen to blaze. When the morning dawned, the English, who had assembled in great strength, forced the gates, rushed into the town, and slew the Normans every one.  The English afterwards besought the Danes to come and help them. The Danes came with two hundred and forty ships.  The outlawed nobles joined them; they captured York, and drove the Normans out of that city.  Then William bribed the Danes to go away, and took such vengeance on the English, that all the former fire and sword, smoke and ashes, death and ruin, were nothing compared with it.  In melancholy songs and doleful stories, it was still sung and told by cottage-fires, on winter evenings a hundred years afterwards, how, in those dreadful days of the Normans, there was not, from the River Humber to the River Tyne, one inhabited village left, nor one cultivated field, - how there was nothing but a dismal ruin, where the human creatures and the beasts lay dead together.

The outlaws had, at this time, what they called a Camp of Refuge, in the midst of the fens of Cambridgeshire.  Protected by those marshy grounds, which were difficult of approach, they lay among the reeds and rushes, and were hidden by the mists that rose up from the watery earth.  Now there also was at that time, over the sea in Flanders, an Englishman named Hereward, whose father had died in his absence, and whose property had been given to a Norman. When he heard of this wrong that had been done him (from such of the exiled English as chanced to wander into that country), he longed for revenge; and joining the outlaws in their camp of refuge, became their commander.  He was so good a soldier, that the Normans supposed him to be aided by enchantment. William, even after he had made a road three miles in length across the Cambridgeshire marshes, on purpose to attack this supposed enchanter, thought it necessary to engage an old lady who pretended to be a sorceress, to come and do a little enchantment in the royal cause.  For this purpose she was pushed on before the troops in a wooden tower; but Hereward very soon disposed of this unfortunate sorceress, by burning her, tower and all.

The monks of the convent of Ely, near at hand, however, who were fond of good living, and who found it very uncomfortable to have the country blockaded, and their supplies of meat and drink cut off, showed the king a secret way of surprising the camp.  So Hereward was soon defeated.  Whether he afterwards died quietly, or whether he was killed after killing sixteen of the men who attacked him (as some old rhymes relate that he did), I cannot say. His defeat put an end to the Camp of Refuge; and, very soon afterwards, the king, victorious both in Scotland and in England, quelled the last rebellious English noble. He then surrounded himself with Norman lords, enriched by the property of English nobles; had a great survey made of all the land in England, which was entered as the property of its new owners, on a roll called Doomsday Book; obliged the people to put out their fires and candles at a certain hour every night, on the ringing of a bell which was called The Curfew; introduced the Norman dresses and manners; made the Normans masters everywhere, and the English servants; turned out the English bishops, and put Normans in their places; and showed himself to be the Conqueror indeed.

But, even with his own Normans, he had a restless life.  They were always hungering and thirsting for the riches of the English; and the more he gave, the more they wanted.  His priests were as greedy as his soldiers. We know of only one Norman who plainly told his master the king, that he had come with him to England to do his duty as a faithful servant, and that property taken by force from other men had no charms for him.  His name was Guilbert.  We should not forget his name; for it is good to remember and to honor honest men.

Besides all these troubles, William the Conqueror was troubled by quarrels among his sons.  He had three living.  Robert, called Curthose, because of his short legs; William, called Rufus, or the Red, from the color of his hair; and Henry, fond of learning, and called, in the Norman language, Beauclerc, or Fine-Scholar.  When Robert grew up, he asked of his father the government of Normandy, which he had nominally possessed, as a child, under his mother Matilda.  The king refusing to grant it, Robert became jealous and discontented; and happening one day, while in this temper, to be ridiculed by his brothers, who threw water on him from a balcony as he was walking before the door, he drew his sword, rushed up stairs, and was only prevented by the king himself from putting them to death. That same night, he hotly departed with some followers from his father's court, and endeavored to take the Castle of Rouen by surprise.  Failing in this, he shut himself up in another castle in Normandy, which the king besieged, and where Robert one day unhorsed and nearly killed him without knowing who he was.  His submission when he discovered his father, and the intercession of the queen and others, reconciled them, but not soundly; for Robert soon strayed abroad, and went from court to court with his complaints.  He was a gay, careless, thoughtless fellow, spending all he got on musicians and dancers; but his mother loved him, and often, against the king's command, supplied him with money through a messenger named Samson.  At length the incensed king swore he would tear out Samson's eyes; and Samson, thinking that his only hope of safety was in becoming a monk, became one, went on such errands no more, and kept his eyes in his head.

All this time, from the turbulent day of his strange coronation, the Conqueror had been struggling, you see, at any cost of cruelty and bloodshed, to maintain what he had seized.  All his reign he struggled still, with the same object ever before him.  He was a stern, bold man, and he succeeded in it.

He loved money, and was particular in his eating; but he had only leisure to indulge one other passion, and that was his love of hunting.  He carried it to such a height, that he ordered whole villages and towns to be swept away to make forests for the deer.  Not satisfied with sixty-eight royal forests, he laid waste an immense district to form another in Hampshire, called the New Forest.  The many thousands of miserable peasants who saw their little houses pulled down, and themselves and children turned into the open country without a shelter, detested him for his merciless addition to their many sufferings; and when in the twenty-first year of his reign (which proved to be the last), he went over to Rouen, England was as full of hatred against him as if every leaf on every tree in all his royal forests had been a curse upon his head. In the New Forest, his son Richard (for he had four sons) had been gored to death by a stag; and the people said that this so cruelly made forest would yet be fatal to others of the Conqueror's race.

He was engaged in a dispute with the king of France about some territory. While he stayed at Rouen, negotiating with that king, he kept his bed and took medicines; being advised by his physicians to do so, on account of having grown to an unwieldy size.  Word being brought to him that the king of France made light of this, and joked about it, he swore in a great rage that he should rue his jests.  He assembled his army, marched into the disputed territory, burnt - his old way! - the vines, the crops and fruit, and set the town of Nantes on fire.  But in an evil hour; for, as he rode over the hot ruins, his horse, setting his hoofs upon some burning embers, started, threw him forward against the pommel of the saddle, and gave him a mortal hurt. For six weeks he lay dying in a monastery near Rouen, and then made his will, giving England to William, Normandy to Robert, and five thousand pounds to Henry.  And now his violent deeds lay heavy on his mind. He ordered money to be given to many English churches and monasteries, and - which was much better repentance - released his prisoners of state, some of whom had been confined in his dungeons twenty years

It was a September morning, and the sun was rising, when the king was awakened from slumber by the sound of a church-bell.  "What bell is that?" he faintly asked.  They told him it was the bell of the chapel of Saint Mary. "I commend my soul," said he, "to Mary!" and died.

Think of his name, The Conqueror, and then consider how he lay in death! The moment he was dead, his physicians, priests, and nobles, not knowing what contest for the throne might now take place, or what might happen in it, hastened away, each man for himself and his own property; the mercenary servants of the court began to rob and plunder; the body of the king, in the indecent strife, was rolled from the bed, and lay alone for hours upon the ground.  O Conqueror!  of whom so many great names are proud now, of whom so many great names thought nothing then, it were better to have conquered one true heart than England!

By and by the priests came creeping in with prayers and candles; and a good knight, named Herluin, undertook (which no one else would do) to convey the body to Caen, in Normandy, in order that it might be buried in St. Stephen's Church there, which the Conqueror had founded.  But fire, of which he had made such bad use in his life, seemed to follow him of itself in death. A great conflagration broke out in the town when the body was placed in the church; and those present running out to extinguish the flames, it was once again left alone.

It was not even buried in peace.  It was about to be let down in its royal robes into a tomb near the high altar, in presence of a great concourse of people, when a loud voice in the crowd cried out, "This ground is mine! Upon it stood my father's house.  This king despoiled me of both ground and house to build this church.  In the great name of God, I here forbid this body to be covered with the earth that is my right!" The priests and bishops present, knowing the speaker's right, and knowing that the king had often denied him justice, paid him down sixty shillings for the grave.  Even then the corpse was not at rest.  The tomb was too small, and they tried to force it in.  It broke, a dreadful smell arose, the people hurried out into the air, and for the third time it was left alone.

Where were the Conqueror's three sons, that they were not at their father's burial?  Robert was lounging among minstrels, dancers, and gamesters in France or Germany.  Henry was carrying his five thousand pounds safely away in a convenient chest he had got made.  William the Red was hurrying to England to lay his hands upon the royal treasure and the crown.

Copyright © 1994 Bureau of Electronic Publishing

Matilda Countess of Flanders Queen of ENGLAND [Parents] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 was born 7 in 1032 in Flanders, France. She died 8, 9 on 2 Nov 1083 in Caen, Normandy, France. She was buried in Eglise De La Sainte Trinitbe, Caen, Normandie, France. Matilda married 10, 11 Guillaume I de NORMANDIE Le Conquberant 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 in 1053 in Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Eu, Normandy, France.

Daughter of Baldwin V. descended from Alfred The Great and Charlemagne.

They had the following children.

  F i
Cecilia Princess of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1055 in Normandie, France. She died on 30 Jul 1126 in Caen, Calvados, France.
  F ii
Agatha Princess of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1064 in Normandie, France. She died before 1086 in Calvados, France. She was buried in Bayeux, Calvados, France.
  M iii
William II "Rufus" King of ENGLAND [scrapbook] 1 was born 2 in 1056 in Normandy, Surrey, England, United Kingdom. He died 3 on 2 Aug 1100 in New Forest, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom. He was buried on 2 Aug 1100 in Cathedrlstswiten, Winchester, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom.


Strong, outspoken and ruddy (hence his nickname 'Rufus'), William II (reigned 1087-1100) extended his father's policies, taking royal power to the far north of England. Ruthless in his relations with his brother Robert, William extended his grip on the duchy of Normandy under an agreement between the brothers in 1091. (Robert went on crusade in 1096.) William's relations with the Church were not easy; he took over Archbishop Lanfranc's revenues after the latter's death in 1089, kept other bishoprics vacant to make use of their revenues, and had numerous arguments with Lanfranc's popular successor, Anselm. William died on 2 August 1100, after being shot by an arrow whilst hunting in the New Forest.
  F iv
Alice Or Adbelahide de NORMANDY 1 was born about 1057 in of, , Normandie. She died in 1065.
  M v
Robert II Prince of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1053 in Normandie, France. He died on 10 Feb 1134 in Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales, United Kingdom. He was buried in St Peters Church, Gloucester, England, United Kingdom.
  M vi
Richard Prince of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1054 in Normandie, France. He died in 1081 in New Forest, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom.
  F vii
Constance Princess of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1061 in Normandie, France. She died on 13 Aug 1090 in England, United Kingdom. She was buried in St Edmondsbury, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom.
  F viii
Adaele (Alice) Princess of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1062 in of, , Normandie. She died on 8 Mar 1135 in Marsilly, Aquitaine, France. She was buried in Caen, Normandy, France.
  F ix
Mathilda Princess of ENGLAND 1 was born in 1059 in Normandie, France. She died before 1112.
  M x Henry I "Beauclerc" King of ENGLAND was born in 1070. He died on 1 Dec 1135.
  F xi
Gundred Princess of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1063 in Normandie, France. She died on 27 May 1085 in Castle Acre, Acre, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom. She was buried in Priory, Lewes, Sussex, England, United Kingdom.

Baudouin V Count of FLANDERS [Parents] [scrapbook] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 was born 7 about 1012 in Flanders, France. He died 8 on 1 Sep 1067 in Lille, Duchy of Lower. He was buried in Lille, Duchy of Lower. Baudouin married 9 Adaele (Alix) Princess of FRANCE 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 about 1028 in Paris, Seine, France.

Adaele (Alix) Princess of FRANCE [Parents] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 was born in 1003 in France. She died 6 on 8 Jan 1079 in Monastaere De L'ordre De St Benoist, Messines, France. She was buried in Monastaere De L'ordre De St Benoist, Messines, France. Adaele married 7 Baudouin V Count of FLANDERS 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 about 1028 in Paris, Seine, France.

They had the following children.

  M i
Baudouin VI (I) Count of FLANDERS AND HAINAULT 1, 2 was born in 1030 in Flanders, France. He died on 17 Jul 1070. He was buried in Abbaye de Hasnon.
  F ii Matilda Countess of Flanders Queen of ENGLAND was born in 1032. She died on 2 Nov 1083.
  M iii
Robrecht I "de Fries" Count of FLANDERS 1, 2 was born about 1033 in of, , Flandres, Belgium. He died on 13 Oct 1093 in Kassel, Germany.
  M iv
Henry Count of FLANDERS 1 was born about 1035 in Flanders, France.

Henry I "Beauclerc" King of ENGLAND [Parents] [scrapbook] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 was born 7 in 1070 in Selby, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. He was christened on 5 Aug 1100 in Selby, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. He died 8, 9, 10 on 1 Dec 1135 in St Denis-le-Fermont, Near Gisors, France. He was buried on 4 Jan 1136 in Reading Abbey, Reading, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom. Henry married 11, 12 Matilda "Atheling" Caennmor Princess of SCOTLAND 13, 14, 15, 16 on 11 Nov 1100 in Westminster Abbey, London, England, United Kingdom.

HENRY I (r. 1100-1135)

William's younger brother Henry succeeded to the throne. He was crowned three days after his brother's death, against the possibility that his eldest brother Robert might claim the English throne. After the decisive battle of Tinchebrai in 1106 in France, Henry completed his conquest of Normandy from Robert, who then (unusually even for that time) spent the last 28 years of his life as his brother's prisoner. An energetic, decisive and occasionally cruel ruler, Henry centralised the administration of England and Normandy in the royal court, using 'viceroys' in Normandy and a group of advisers in England to act on his behalf when he was absent across the Channel. Henry successfully sought to increase royal revenues, as shown by the official records of his exchequer (the Pipe Roll of 1130, the first exchequer account to survive). He established peaceful relations with Scotland, through his marriage to Mathilda of Scotland.

Henry's name 'Beauclerc' denoted his good education (as the youngest son, his parents possibly expected that he would become a bishop); Henry was probably the first Norman king to be fluent in English. In 1120, his legitimate sons William and Richard drowned in the White Ship which sank in the English Channel. This posed a succession problem, as Henry never allowed any of his illegitimate children to expect succession to either England or Normandy. Henry had a legitimate daughter Matilda (widow of Emperor Henry V, subsequently married to the Count of Anjou). However, it was his nephew Stephen (reigned 1135-54), son of William the Conqueror's daughter Adela, who succeeded Henry after his death, allegedly caused by eating too many lampreys (fish) in 1135, as the barons mostly opposed the idea of a female ruler.

Dickens, Charles
Chapter X.  England Under Henry The First, Called Fine-Scholar.

Fine-Scholar, on hearing of the Red King's death, hurried to Winchester with as much speed as Rufus himself had made, to seize the royal treasure. But the keeper of the treasure, who had been one of the hunting-party in the forest, made haste to Winchester too, and, arriving there at about the same time, refused to yield it up.  Upon this, Fine-Scholar drew his sword, and threatened to kill the treasurer; who might have paid for his fidelity with his life, but that he knew longer resistance to be useless, when he found the prince supported by a company of powerful barons, who declared they were determined to make him king.  The treasurer, therefore, gave up the money, and jewels of the crown; and on the third day after the death of the Red King, being a Sunday, Fine-Scholar stood before the high altar in Westminster Abbey, and made a solemn declaration, that he would resign the Church property which his brother had seized; that he would do no wrong to the nobles; and that he would restore to the people the laws of Edward the Confessor, with all the improvements of William the Conqueror.  So began the reign of King Henry the First.

The people were attached to their new king, both because he had known distresses, and because he was an Englishman by birth, and not a Norman.  To strengthen this last hold upon them, the king wished to marry an English lady; and could think of no other wife than Maud the Good, the daughter of the king of Scotland.  Although this good princess did not love the king, she was so affected by the representations the nobles made to her of the great charity it would be in her to unite the Norman and Saxon races, and prevent hatred and bloodshed between them for the future, that she consented to become his wife. After some disputing among the priests, who said that as she had been in a convent in her youth, and had worn the veil of a nun, she could not lawfully be married, - against which the princess stated that her aunt, with whom she had lived in her youth, had indeed sometimes thrown a piece of black stuff over her, but for no other reason than because the nun's veil was the only dress the conquering Normans respected in girl or woman, and not because she had taken the vows of a nun, which she never had, - she was declared free to marry, and was made King Henry's queen.  A good queen she was, - beautiful, kind-hearted, and worthy of a better husband than the king.

For he was a cunning and unscrupulous man, though firm and clever.  He cared very little for his word, and took any means to gain his ends. All this is shown in his treatment of his brother Robert, - Robert, who had suffered him to be refreshed with water, and who had sent him the wine from his own table, when he was shut up, with the crows flying below him, parched with thirst, in the castle on the top of St. Michael's Mount, where his Red brother would have let him die.

Before the king began to deal with Robert, he removed and disgraced all the favorites of the late king; who were for the most part base characters, much detested by the people.  Flambard, or Firebrand, whom the late king had made Bishop of Durham, of all things in the world, Henry imprisoned in the Tower; but Firebrand was a great joker and a jolly companion, and made himself so popular with his guards, that they pretended to know nothing about a long rope that was sent into his prison at the bottom of a deep flagon of wine. The guards took the wine, and Firebrand took the rope; with which, when they were fast asleep, he let himself down from a window in the night, and so got cleverly aboard ship and away to Normandy.

Now Robert, when his brother Fine-Scholar came to the throne, was still absent in the Holy Land.  Henry pretended that Robert had been made sovereign of that country, and he had been away so long, that the ignorant people believed it.  But, behold, when Henry had been some time king of England, Robert came home to Normandy!  having leisurely returned from Jerusalem through Italy, in which beautiful country he had enjoyed himself very much, and had married a lady as beautiful as itself.  In Normandy, he found Firebrand waiting to urge him to assert his claim to the English crown, and declare war against King Henry. This, after great loss of time in feasting and dancing with his beautiful Italian wife among his Norman friends, he at last did.

The English in general were on King Henry's side, though many of the Normans were on Robert's.  But the English sailors deserted the king, and took a great part of the English fleet over to Normandy; so that Robert came to invade this country in no foreign vessels, but in English ships.  The virtuous Anselm, however, whom Henry had invited back from abroad, and made Archbishop of Canterbury, was steadfast in the king's cause; and it was so well supported, that the two armies, instead of fighting, made a peace.  Poor Robert, who trusted anybody and everybody, readily trusted his brother, the king; and agreed to go home and receive a pension from England, on condition that all his followers were fully pardoned.  This the king very faithfully promised; but Robert was no sooner gone than he began to punish them.

Among them was the Earl of Shrewsbury, who, on being summoned by the king to answer to five-and-forty accusations, rode away to one of his strong castles, shut himself up therein, called around him his tenants and vassals, and fought for his liberty, but was defeated and banished.  Robert, with all his faults, was so true to his word, that, when he first heard of this nobleman having risen against his brother, he laid waste the Earl of Shrewsbury's estates in Normandy to show the king that he would favor no breach of their treaty.  Finding, on better information, afterwards, that the earl's only crime was having been his friend, he came over to England, in his old thoughtless, warm-hearted way, to intercede with the king, and remind him of the solemn promise to pardon all his followers.

This confidence might have put the false king to the blush, but it did not.  Pretending to be very friendly, he so surrounded his brother with spies and traps, that Robert, who was quite in his power, had nothing for it but to renounce his pension, and escape while he could. Getting home to Normandy, and understanding the king better now, he naturally allied himself with his old friend the Earl of Shrewsbury, who had still thirty castles in that country.  This was exactly what Henry wanted.  He immediately declared that Robert had broken the treaty, and next year invaded Normandy.

He pretended that he came to deliver the Normans, at their own request, from his brother's misrule.  There is reason to fear that his misrule was bad enough; for his beautiful wife had died, leaving him with an infant son; and his court was again so careless, dissipated, and ill-regulated, that it was said he sometimes lay in bed of a day for want of clothes to put on, - his attendants having stolen all his dresses.  But he headed his army like a brave prince and a gallant soldier, though he had the misfortune to be taken prisoner by King Henry, with four hundred of his knights.  Among them was poor harmless Edgar Atheling, who loved Robert well.  Edgar was not important enough to be severe with.  The king afterwards gave him a small pension, which he lived upon and died upon in peace, among the quiet woods and fields of England.

And Robert, - poor, kind, generous, wasteful, heedless Robert, with so many faults, and yet with virtues that might have made a better and a happier man, - what was the end of him?  If the king had had the magnanimity to say with a kind air, "Brother, tell me, before these noblemen, that from this time you will be my faithful follower and friend, and never raise your hand against me or my forces more," he might have trusted Robert to the death. But the king was not a magnanimous man.  He sentenced his brother to be confined for life in one of the royal castles.  In the beginning of his imprisonment he was allowed to ride out, guarded; but he one day broke away from his guard and galloped off.  He had the evil fortune to ride into a swamp, where his horse stuck fast and he was taken.  When the king heard of it he ordered him to be blinded, which was done by putting a red-hot metal basin on his eyes.

And so, in darkness and in prison many years, he thought of all his past life, - of the time he had wasted, of the treasure he had squandered, of the opportunities he had lost, of the youth he had thrown away, of the talents he had neglected.  Sometimes, on fine autumn mornings, he would sit and think of the old hunting-parties in the free forest, where he had been the foremost and the gayest. Sometimes, in the still nights, he would wake, and mourn for the many nights that had stolen past him at the gaming-table; sometimes would seem to hear, upon the melancholy wind, the old songs of the minstrels; sometimes would dream, in his blindness, of the light and glitter of the Norman court. Many and many a time, he groped back, in his fancy, to Jerusalem, where he had fought so well; or, at the head of his brave companions, bowed his feathered helmet to the shouts of welcome greeting him in Italy, and seemed again to walk among the sunny vineyards, or on the shore of the blue sea, with his lovely wife.  And then, thinking of her grave, and of his fatherless boy, he would stretch out his solitary arms and weep.

At length, one day, there lay in prison, dead, with cruel and disfiguring scars upon his eyelids, bandaged from his jailer's sight, but on which the eternal heavens looked down, a worn old man of eighty.  He had once been Robert of Normandy.  Pity him!

At the time when Robert of Normandy was taken prisoner by his brother, Robert's little son was only five years old.  This child was taken too, and carried before the king, sobbing and crying; for, young as he was, he knew he had good reason to be afraid of his royal uncle.  The king was not much accustomed to pity those who were in his power, but his cold heart seemed for the moment to soften towards the boy.  He was observed to make a great effort, as if to prevent himself from being cruel, and ordered the child to be taken away; whereupon a certain baron, who had married a daughter of Duke Robert's (by name, Helie of Saint Saen), took charge of him tenderly.  The king's gentleness did not last long.  Before two years were over, he sent messengers to this lord's castle to seize the child and bring him away.  The baron was not there at the time; but his servants were faithful, and carried the boy off in his sleep and hid him.  When the baron came home, and was told what the king had done, he took the child abroad, and, leading him by the hand, went from king to king, and from court to court, relating how the child had a claim to the throne of England, and how his uncle the king, knowing that he had had that claim, would have murdered him, perhaps, but for his escape.

The youth and innocence of the pretty little William Fitz-Robert (for that was his name) made him many friends at that time.  When he became a young man, the King of France, uniting with the French Counts of Anjou and Flanders, supported his cause against the King of England, and took many of the king's towns and castles in Normandy.  But King Henry, artful and cunning always, bribed some of William's friends with money, some with promises, some with power.  He bought off the Count of Anjou, by promising to marry his eldest son, also named William, to the count's daughter; and indeed the whole trust of this king's life was in such bargains; and he believed (as many another king has done since, and as one king did in France a very little time ago) that every man's truth and honor can be bought at some price. For all this, he was so afraid of William Fitz-Robert and his friends, that for a long time he believed his life to be in danger; and never lay down to sleep, even in his palace, surrounded by his guards, without having a sword and buckler at his bedside.

To strengthen his power, the king with great ceremony betrothed his eldest daughter, Matilda, then a child only eight years old, to be the wife of Henry the Fifth, the Emperor of Germany.  To raise her marriage-portion, he taxed the English people in a most oppressive manner; then treated them to a great procession, to restore their good humor; and sent Matilda away, in fine state, with the German ambassadors, to be educated in the country of her future husband.

And now his queen, Maud the Good, unhappily died.  It was a sad thought for that gentle lady, that the only hope with which she had married a man whom she had never loved, - the hope of reconciling the Norman and English races - had failed.  At the very time of her death, Normandy and all France was in arms against England; for, so soon as his last danger was over, King Henry had been false to all the French powers he had promised, bribed, and bought, and they had naturally united against him.  After some fighting, however, in which few suffered but the unhappy common people (who always suffered, whatsoever was the matter), he began to promise, bribe, and buy again; and by those means, and by the help of the pope, who exerted himself to save more bloodshed, and by solemnly declaring, over and over again, that he really was in earnest this time, and would keep his word, the king made peace.

One of the first consequences of this peace was, that the king went over to Normandy with his son Prince William and a great retinue, to have the prince acknowledged as his successor by the Norman nobles, and to contract the promised marriage (this was one of the many promises the king had broken) between him and the daughter of the Count of Anjou.  Both these things were triumphantly done, with great show and rejoicing; and, on the 25th of November, in the year 1120, the whole retinue prepared to embark at the Port of Barfleur, for the voyage home.

On that day, and at that place, there came to the king, Fitz-Stephen, a sea-captain, and said, -

"My liege, my father served your father all his life, upon the sea. He steered the ship, with the golden boy upon the prow, in which your father sailed to conquer England.  I beseech you to grant me the same office.  I have a fair vessel in the harbor here, called 'The White Ship,' manned by fifty sailors of renown.  I pray you, sire, to let your servant have the honor of steering you in 'The White Ship' to England!"

"I am sorry, friend," replied the king, "that my vessel is already chosen, and that I cannot (therefore) sail with the son of the man who served my father.  But the prince and all his company shall go along with you, in the fair 'White Ship,' manned by the fifty sailors of renown."

An hour or two afterwards, the king set sail in the vessel he had chosen, accompanied by other vessels, and, sailing all night with a fair and gentle wind, arrived upon the coast of England in the morning.  While it was yet night, the people in some of those ships heard a faint wild cry come over the sea, and wondered what it was.

Now the prince was a dissolute, debauched young man of eighteen, who bore no love to the English, and had declared that when he came to the throne he would yoke them to the plough like oxen.  He went aboard "The White Ship," with one hundred and forty youthful nobles like himself, among whom were eighteen noble ladies of the highest rank. All this gay company, with their servants and the fifty sailors, made three hundred souls aboard the fair "White Ship."

"Give three casks of wine, Fitz-Stephen," said the prince, "to the fifty sailors of renown.  My father, the king, has sailed out of the harbor.  What time is there to make merry here, and yet reach England with the rest?"

"Prince," said Fitz-Stephen, "before morning my fifty and 'The White Ship' shall overtake the swiftest vessel in attendance on your father, the king, if we sail at midnight!"

Then the prince commanded to make merry; and the sailors drank out the three casks of wine, and the prince and all the noble company danced in the moonlight on the deck of "The White Ship."

When, at last, she shot out of the harbor of Barfleur, there was not a sober seaman on board.  But the sails were all set, and the oars all going merrily.  Fitz-Stephen had the helm.  The gay young nobles and the beautiful ladies, wrapped in mantles of various bright colors to protect them from the cold, talked, laughed, and sang.  The prince encouraged the fifty sailors to row harder yet, for the honor of "The White Ship."

Crash!  A terrific cry broke from three hundred hearts.  It was the cry the people in the distant vessels of the king heard faintly on the water. "The White Ship" had struck upon a rock, - was filling, - going down!

Fitz-Stephen hurried the prince into a boat, with some few nobles. "Push off," he whispered, "and row to the land.  It is not so far, and the sea is smooth.  The rest of us must die."

But as they rowed away fast from the sinking ship, the prince heard the voice of his sister Marie, the countess of Perche, calling for help.  He never in his life had been so good as he was then.  He cried in an agony, "Row back at any risk!  I cannot bear to leave her!"

They rowed back.  As the prince held out his arms to catch his sister, such numbers leaped in, that the boat was overset.  And in the same instant "The White Ship" went down.

Only two men floated.  They both clung to the mainyard of the ship, which had broken from the mast and now supported them.  One asked the other who he was?  He said, "I am a nobleman, Godrey by name, the son of Gilbert de l'Aigle.  And you?" said he.  "I am Berold, a poor butcher of Rouen," was the answer.  Then they said together, "Lord, be merciful to us both!" and tried to encourage one another, as they drifted in the cold benumbing sea on that unfortunate November night.

By and by, another man came swimming towards them, whom they knew, when he pushed aside his long wet hair, to be Fitz-Stephen.  "Where is the prince?" said he.  "Gone, gone!" the two cried together.  "Neither he, nor his brother, nor his sister, nor the king's niece, nor her brother, nor any one of all the brave three hundred, noble or commoner, except we three, has risen above the water!" Fitz-Stephen, with a ghastly face, cried, "Woe!  woe to me!" and sunk to the bottom.

The other two clung to the yard for some hours.  At length the young noble said faintly, "I am exhausted, and chilled with the cold, and can hold no longer.  Farewell, good friend!  God preserve you!" So he dropped and sunk; and, of all the brilliant crowd, the poor butcher of Rouen alone was saved. In the morning, some fishermen saw him floating in his sheep-skin coat, and got him into their boat, - the sole relater of the dismal tale.

For three days, no one dared to carry the intelligence to the king. At length they sent into his presence a little boy, who, weeping bitterly, and kneeling at his feet, told him that "The White Ship" was lost with all on board.  The king fell to the ground like a dead man, and never, never afterwards was seen to smile.

But he plotted again, and promised again, and bribed and bought again, in his old deceitful way.  Having no son to succeed him, after all his pains ("The prince will never yoke us to the plough now!" said the English people), he took a second wife, - Adelais, or Alice, a duke's daughter, and the pope's niece.  Having no more children, however, he proposed to the barons to swear that they would recognize as his successor his daughter Matilda, whom, as she was now a widow, he married to the eldest son of the Count of Anjou, Geoffrey, surnamed Plantagenet, from a custom he had of wearing a sprig of flowering broom (called genet in French) in his cap for a feather.  As one false man usually makes many, and as a false king, in particular, is pretty certain to make a false court, the barons took the oath about the succession of Matilda (and her children after her) twice over, without in the least intending to keep it.  The king was now relieved from any remaining fears of William Fitz-Robert, by his death in the Monastery of St. Omer, in France, at twenty-six years old, of a pike-wound in the hand.  And, as Matilda gave birth to three sons, he thought the succession to the throne secure.

He spent most of the latter part of his life, which was troubled by family quarrels, in Normandy, to be near Matilda.  When he had reigned upwards of thirty-five years, and was sixty-seven years old, he died of an indigestion and fever, brought on by eating, when he was far from well, of a fish called lamprey, against which he had often been cautioned by his physicians.  His remains were brought over to Reading Abbey, to be buried.

You may perhaps hear the cunning and promise-breaking of King Henry the First, called "policy" by some people, and "diplomacy" by others. Neither of these fine words will in the least mean that it was true; and nothing that is not true can possibly be good.

His greatest merit, that I know of, was his love of learning.  I should have given him greater credit even for that, if it had been strong enough to induce him to spare the eyes of a certain poet he once took prisoner, who was a knight besides.  But he ordered the poet's eyes to be torn from his head, because he had laughed at him in his verses; and the poet, in the pain of that torture, dashed out his own brains against his prison wall.  King Henry the First, was avaricious, revengeful, and so false that I suppose a man never lived whose word was less to be relied upon.

Copyright © 1994 Bureau of Electronic Publishing

Matilda "Atheling" Caennmor Princess of SCOTLAND [Parents] [scrapbook] 1, 2, 3, 4 was born 5, 6 in 1079 in Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland, United Kingdom. She died 7, 8, 9 on 1 May 1118 in Westminster Palace, London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom. She was buried in Jun 1118 in Church of St Peter, Westminster, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom. Matilda married 10, 11 Henry I "Beauclerc" King of ENGLAND 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 on 11 Nov 1100 in Westminster Abbey, London, England, United Kingdom.

They had the following children.

  M i
Son Prince of ENGLAND 1 was born in Jul 1101 in of, , England, United Kingdom. He died in 1101/1102.
  M ii
William "Atheling" Prince of ENGLAND 1, 2 was born before 5 Aug 1103 in of, Selby, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. He died on 26 Nov 1119 in at Sea, Barfleur, Manche, France.

DEATH: Drowned in the White Ship.
  F iii Matilda (Maud) Empress of GERMANY Lady of the English was born in 1103/1104. She died on 10 Sep 1167.
  M iv
Richard Prince of ENGLAND 1 was born about 1105 in of, , England, United Kingdom. He died on 26 Sep 1119 in at Sea, Barfleur, Manche, France.
  F v Constance of ENGLAND was born about 1105.

Baudouin IV "Le Barbu", Count of FLANDRES [Parents] [scrapbook] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 was born about 967/968 in of, , Flanders, France. He died in BET 30 MAY 1036 AND 1039 in Flanders, France. Baudouin married Otgive de LUXEMBOURG 6, 7, 8 about 1004 in of, , Flanders, France.

Otgive de LUXEMBOURG [Parents] 1, 2, 3 was born about 986 in of Flanders, France. She died 4 on 21 Feb 1030 in Flanders, France. Otgive married Baudouin IV "Le Barbu", Count of FLANDRES 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 about 1004 in of, , Flanders, France.

They had the following children.

  M i Baudouin V Count of FLANDERS was born about 1012. He died on 1 Sep 1067.
  F ii
Ermengarde de FLANDERS 1 was born about 1005 in of, , Flanders, Belgium.

Robert II "The Pious" King of FRANCE [Parents] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 was born on 27 Mar 972 in Orléans, Centre, France. He died on 20 Jul 1031 in Melun, Île-de-France, France. He was buried in St Denis, France. Robert married 7 Constance de TOULOUSE 8, 9, 10, 11 in 1002 in France.

Other marriages:
ITALY, Rosele (Susanna), Princess of

Constance de TOULOUSE [Parents] 1, 2, 3, 4 was born 5 about 986 in of, , Toulouse. She died 6 on 25 Jul 1032 in Melun, Île-de-France, France. She was buried in Abbaye de Saint Denis, Isle de France, France. Constance married 7 Robert II "The Pious" King of FRANCE 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 in 1002 in France.

They had the following children.

  F i Adaele (Alix) Princess of FRANCE was born in 1003. She died on 8 Jan 1079.
  M ii Henri I King of FRANCE was born in 1008. He died on 4 Aug 1060.
  F iii
Adbelahide Havoise Princess of FRANCE 1, 2 was born 3 in 1009 in of, Nevers, Bourgogne. She died on 8 Jan 1079 in of, Nevers, Bourgogne. She was buried in St Germain, Bourgogne, France.
  M iv
Robert Prince of FRANCE 1, 2 was born about 1011 in France. He died on 21 Mar 1076 in Fleury-Sur-Ouche, France. He was buried in Abbaye de Saint Seine, Sbemur, Bourgogne.
  M v
Eudo (Odes) Prince of FRANCE 1, 2 was born in 1013 in France. He died in 1056.
  M vi
Hugues "The Grand" Prince of FRANCE 1, 2 was christened in 1057 in France. He died on 18 Dec 1102 in Champagne, France. He was buried in St Corneillier, Compiaegne, Flandres.

Arnold II Count of FLANDRES [Parents] [scrapbook] 1, 2, 3, 4 was born about 941 in Flanders, France. He died 5 on 30 Mar 987. He was buried in BET 30 MAR 987 AND 989. Arnold married 6 Rosele (Susanna), Princess of ITALY 7, 8, 9 in 968.

Rosele (Susanna), Princess of ITALY [Parents] 1, 2, 3 was born about 945 in of, , , Luxembourg. She died on 26 Jan 1003 in Ghent, Flandres, Belgium. She was buried in Ghent, Flandres, Belgium. Rosele married 4 Arnold II Count of FLANDRES 5, 6, 7, 8 in 968.

Other marriages:
FRANCE, Robert II "The Pious" King of

They had the following children.

  M i Baudouin IV "Le Barbu", Count of FLANDRES was born about 967/968. He died in BET 30 MAY 1036 AND 1039.

Frederic I Count of LUXEMBOURG [Parents] 1 was born about 945 in of, , Moselgau, France. He died on 6 Oct 1019. Frederic married Irmtrud Countess of GLEIBERG 2 after 985 in of, Lorraine, France.

Irmtrud Countess of GLEIBERG [Parents] 1 was born in 948 in of, Gleiberg, , Germany. Irmtrud married Frederic I Count of LUXEMBOURG 2 after 985 in of, Lorraine, France.

They had the following children.

  F i
Jutta Countess of LUXEMBOURG 1 was born in 1000 in of, Limburg, Limburg, Belgium. She died after 21 Aug 1057.

  F ii Otgive de LUXEMBOURG was born about 986. She died on 21 Feb 1030.
  F iii
Otgina 1 was born about 988 in of, Limburg, Limburg, Belgium.
  F iv
Irmtrud Countess of LUXEMBURG 1 was born in 990 in of, Limburg, Limburg, Belgium. She died in 1055.

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